Pay It Forward

by Lisa on February 16, 2012

We sat at the dining room table—he on one side, me on the other. The conversation was getting a little animated. Heated, you might say. Mostly from my side. I wanted paint. He said we couldn’t afford it. “We can never afford it…or anything else,” I barked. The final words were meant as a dig. We continued “discussing”. The volume (again, mostly me) continued to grow. Finally he looked at me and said, “We should pray about it.”

“Pray, shmea. We need action. I’m tired of talking about things. I don’t want to pray. I want paint.” I got up and stormed toward the front door. “I’m going to pick up Isabelle from ballet” I said through clenched teeth. I got into the car, slammed the door, and peeled out of the driveway.

Half way down the street I started yelling. The car heard things that afternoon I wouldn’t want anyone to hear. Not my worst enemy, and certainly not my husband whom I was mad at. After several blocks of rage-ranting, my words became more directed at God. “Fine. That husband of mine said pray. So…I’m praying. I want paint. He said to ask You for exactly what I want, so I am. Actually I’m telling You. I’m tired of waiting. Tired of not getting what I want. Tired of my house not being how I’d like. I want some paint. And, I want it right NOW.” Not really the kind of prayer David meant, nor the kind that garners any sort of respect or love. It was more like a spoiled, self-centered two year old’s—a two year old that needs a good spanking. It was, however, raw and honest—and quite ugly.

I continued driving, and continued my temper tantrum with God.

I reached the ballet studio and tried to park. There were no parking spaces in front. Annoyed, I drove around the block and back into the parking lot. Just my luck (sarcasm intended) there was a parking spot by the fenced garbage area. I got out of the car.

“Hey—how are you?” I turned to see John, one of the owners of OBA. “Look at this. Here’s two brand new gallons of paint sitting here by the dumpster. Ya want it? It’s perfectly good paint. I don’t need it, but it looks like it was purchased today. It’s never been opened. Maybe who ever bought it decided they didn’t like the color after all. And, you know, you can’t return those custom colors.”

I just stood there dumbfounded. Almost crying in fact. Could God really care about my wants and/or needs even down to paint? And, how could God so kindly offer such a gift when I’d just had such a venomous, ugly, self-centered, woe-is-me ranting only moments before? Especially when half of my rantings were directed at Him and the unfairness of my life.

Only one word: GRACE

Charis. Unmerited favor. Love. Mercy. Kindness.

And, free. Mine for the taking.

I didn’t have to work for it. I didn’t have to earn it. I didn’t have to do anything, but reach out and take it. To trust. To believe.

Yeah…I know we’re talking about paint here, but really it is the same thing. I acted like a bona fide ass, yet God blessed me in spite of my “assdom”. He poured forth His charis. His unmerited favor. His grace. His love. His mercy. His kindness. Even when I did not deserve it.

I quickly picked up the girl—and the paint—and drove home.

I walked in the door. “Do you want the good news, or the bad?” I asked in a somewhat sheepishly, yet in a still surly manner. “The good news,” he answered. “We’ve got paint and I hope you like pink. Ballerina Pink. Because that’s the color your bedroom is going to be,” I replied. “The bad news? I’m still mad at you.” He started laughing.

I started crying. I told him the story, and I apologized. Then later that day, I told a friend of my “unlovliness” and the results. Her reply, “I’ve got tons of extra paint in the garage you can have. Lots of white and cream. I’ve got pear green and a bright blue.” No Ballerina Pink.

Yet another charis.

Earlier in the afternoon I possessed a bitter, ugly heart, a surly attitude, and no paint. Now, I owned an embarrassment at my jerkiness, a humbler spirit, some severe eucharisteo, and more paint than I new what to do with.

I never used the Ballerina Pink. It was still sitting in its new cans—collecting dust. Until yesterday. Valentine’s Day. Ballerina Pink day.

I told a woman at the florist shop my story. She laughed and said she and her husband had recently had a similar discussion about paint. She had wanted to redo her daughter’s bedroom in a pink princess theme, but they could not afford the paint. They had gone round and round about paint and finally she (much nicer than me) gave in.

Charis was about to visit her door. “You can have our paint,” I offered. “Really?” she said. “I’m not going to use it,” I replied. “It’s all yours. I’ll bring it tomorrow.” “Kinda like Pay It Forward,” she smiled. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.” But I was thinking to myself, “More like a God love letter.”

Grace. Charis.

“Happy Valentine’s day, my friend.” From, God.


Read More ~

Celebrate February with Love Letters

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

tracy February 16, 2012 at 7:04 am

I love this and I love you and I love paint! I have 2 gallons of unused paint too….I bought it thinking I was doing more then my bathroom and found that it is only right for my bathroom. So now I have 2 extras:) want it? HA! God is good indeed!

Lisa February 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

Thanks, Trac. I love paint too—and am somewhat of a paint hoarder. Sure. I’ll take your paint. :)

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